South Africa

World Rabies Day: Animal welfare groups, province on campaign to vaccinate pets

Cape Town – The Western Cape government and animal welfare groups are embarking on a campaign to vaccinate pets against rabies.

In honour of World Rabies Day, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture said it aims to vaccinate 70 000 pets this year.

The department said it would host regular rabies vaccination outreaches in communities across the province that do not have easy access to veterinary services.

Other initiatives would include farmer education days and school talks.

“Veterinary officials hold regular farmer education days concentrating on diseases, issues farmers need to look out for and how to prevent them.

“At the same time, school talks to learners focus on dog behaviour, preventing dog bites, and preventing rabies in their pets,” said Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer.

“Veterinary officials will ensure that rabies awareness is included during their daily interaction with animal owners during their visits to farms, smallholdings and other premises where animals are kept.

“We do so because we believe that the health of animals is vital to safeguarding people’s health and preventing disease outbreaks or transmission.”

Those interested in finding out more information on the assistance offered by the Western Cape’s Veterinary Services, can visit: https://www.elsenburg.com/services-and-programmes/veterinary-services

Meanwhile, the Mdzananda Animal Clinic is doing its part for rabies awareness. In support of World Rabies Day, it aims to vaccinate 1 000 dogs from the Khayelitsha community in one day.

The area recently experienced a rabies outbreak.

Mdzananda Animal Clinic operations manager Heidi May said the clinic would be hosting a mass vaccination day on October 2 from 9am when pets belonging to the local community could receive free vaccinations from four mobile vaccination stations being set up in Mfuleni’s Extension 6, Bardale, Burundi and Green Park.

“Rabies is a deadly virus which can spread through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite but it can also transmit through saliva coming into contact with lips, eyes or any exposed cuts on the body. The virus can be transmitted to other animals and humans – 99% of human cases result from dog bites and are fatal once symptoms occur,” said May.

Children from the Khayelitsha who brought their pets to the Mdzananda Animal Clinic to be vaccinated during last year’s World Rabies Day outreach. Picture: Supplied

May said each pet would also be vaccinated against deadly diseases including parvovirus, distemper, parainfluenza and adenovirus.

The clinic appealed to the public to assist in covering the cost of the vaccination, needles, syringes and gloves needed for this initiative by sponsoring a dog for R50.

Other animal welfare groups are also doing their part to protect pets against rabies.

SA.MAST Animal Clinic Khayelitsha director and founder Tamsin Nel said although the call for pet owners in Khayelitsha to safeguard their pets against the disease has made its way into popular media, many Khayelitsha residents were still unaware of the initiative.

May said they hoped this programme would raise awareness around the disease in Khayelitsha, the importance of vaccines and also the importance of primary health care for pets, while creating a safer environment for pet owners.

SPCA spokesperson Shane Everts said in terms of The Animal Diseases Act 35 of 1984, owners of dogs and cats must have their pets vaccinated against rabies.

The Cape of Good Hope SPCA said it had administered 150 vaccinations per day in Khayelitsha since the two positive cases were confirmed in August and encouraged pet owners to bring their animals to the SPCA or their roving mobile clinics for free vaccinations.

“We want to increase the number of roving mobiles that service our high-deprivation areas on a rotational basis to increase coverage and reach more animals with vaccinations, sterilisations and treatment of minor ailments,” said SPCA chief executive Moyo Ndukwana.

Those interested in assisting the Mdzananda Animal Clinic are encouraged to make a donation through their website: https://www.mdzananda.co.za/donate-ctzx

Cape Argus

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